A Lonely Soldier…

…away from home through no wish of my own.

Today we crossed the treacherous Albemarle Sound with building winds and seas. I will be writing about it tomorrow night. It was a bit exciting though we probably set a speed record for Loopers. But right now I cannot wait to tell you a tale of love and deceit, war and peace, and dedication above and beyond the call of duty. Yes this is the story of the men’s restroom shrine dedicated to Bernard Frank Roth, a true American.

When we arrived late at Belhaven Waterway Marina it was a nondescript little place that appeared well maintained but nothing special. Nothing that is until around 10pm when nature called and I went to the shore to save a flush on the boat as we call it.

That is when I walked straight into a shrine of sorts to old Bernard Frank Roth. New age music was softly playing in background sounding for all the world like I was entering a Buddist Temple. What could this be in this forgotten little hamlet in North Carolina?

Bernard or Bernie as he was known to friends, was a young high school grad who joined the Navy in peacetime and went off to serve his country. He served his hitch and was discharged honorably on November 18, 1941, just 25 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II. The United States needed a large Army to fight the Axis Powers and prior military service was an excellent recommendation. So Bernie joined the Army this time and went overseas with many a brave young boy.

He left behind his high school sweetheart who had pledged her undying love and promised to wait for his safe return. Who knows what occurred after that to undermine her love and devotion. Perhaps another young man who was closer to home while Bernie lived only in letters sent from the battle front.

In a tiny frame among all the pictures of Bernie’s life and military service was a letter written by Connie, the girl he left behind to keep the home fires burning just as she had pledged to do. It was what is called a “Dear John letter” and thousands of boys like Bernie serving from Europe to the seas of Japan received letters much like it bringing news that their life and what they were fighting for was deserting them. Here is word for word the text of that letter and a photo of it. It is on monogrammed stationary with a C for Connie. Her picture in a bathing suit is just above it. She was quite a looker.

Silver Springs, Florida

January 17, 1942 P.M.

Dear Bernie,

Please forgive me. Bernie, I know that I am asking more than I have a right to ask but I believe that you will give it to me. I want freedom from my promise.

I suppose that you don’t understand that. I don’t either except that the flame which once burned so brightly, surely, and constantly is dead. I can’t find it at all Bernie, not even a spark from which to rekindle it.

I see, now, that Mother was right when she said…

And thus ends the first page and no others are there so you dear reader will have to make up your own ending. How did Bernie take it? How did he survive? For survive he did and was discharged from the Army after the war on August 22, 1945.

I believe he bounced back and was a happier man for it but you may have another version. I will tell you that the walls were lined with photos of Bernie with several other beautiful native girls in the Pacific Theater and he looked pretty happy to me. And that ends our tale.

Tomorrow we enter the interestingly named Dismal Swamp. Come with us won’t you?